Note: This post has been updated for 2022.
Companies use email inboxes to respond to customer queries. They’re managed by a support team who read, troubleshoot, reply and close email requests. However, the more support reps you have involved in the mix, the more likely it is that your shared inbox will become one big mess.
Conversations might be missed, emails not replied to, or multiple reps responding to the same email. It’s an inefficient and unprofessional way to manage your emails, leading to much lost time and duplicated efforts.
That’s why you need a shared inbox tool to help you deliver top notch customer service and to keep those emails under control. This article shares a list of the best shared inbox tools out there.
Which is the best shared inbox?
A shared inbox is an email inbox that more than one person can access. It is used for managing and responding to customer emails in an organized way. It is usually associated with an email address such as info @company.com or support @company.com and the team is responsible for replying to all of these emails from the shared email address.
So which is the best shared inbox? That depends on how you work, the size of your team, and where your customers contact you. There are a lot of shared inbox tools and we’ll break down the best ones below.
Importance of a shared inbox
When you first start out as a company, it’s relatively easy to keep track of the small number of email requests, and you likely only have a limited number of team members to collaborate with each other. As your team and company grows, however, potential for confusion becomes rampant and it becomes significantly harder for your customer service team to manage your incoming emails.
Email inbox growing pains is a big problem for customer support teams and the result is a subpar standard of customer service. Emails get missed, conversations aren’t replied to, or two people respond to the same email.
The right shared inbox software can really help. It comes with all the features to help you efficiently manage your incoming emails. There are even some shared inbox tools that integrate directly with Gmail so you don’t have to learn a new tool.
Shared inbox software features
Collaborative email management
Customer service teams should be able to easily manage all incoming emails to the support @company.com email address and assign certain emails to particular agents. With a shared inbox tool, they can track the status of customer communications as “open”, “pending”, or “closed”.
All you need to do is log into one account and you’ll have an overarching view of all your different emails in the shared inbox.. There’s no need to switch between screens or log into different accounts, and the result is agents being able to reply to queries in a productive way.
Private notes and comments
When you assign an email to another agent after having worked on it already, there’s a need to provide context to the email chain. Without that context, agents have to read through the entire email chain to understand what’s going on.
That’s why shared notes on emails in your shared inbox is such a powerful collaborative feature, which enables agents to work together remotely without having to physically ask colleagues to provide more information. You can think of it as internal team chat for your support requests.
Agent collision occurs when more than one individual on your customer support team replies to a customer email, and potentially shares a different solution. This is undermining to your customer support team and looks unprofessional.
Collision detection automatically locks a customer email that is already being responded to so no one else can reply to the email. The software can also assign new emails to particular team members, preventing anyone else from picking up the conversation.
Canned responses and templates
Shared email inbox software allows you to save canned responses and email templates that you can use to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes you to reply to common customer questions. These saved replies can be shared among every team member so that everyone can benefit from consistency in their responses.
Reporting and analytics
The best shared inbox tools have advanced reporting and analytics, so you can monitor your team’s progress toward delivering exceptional customer service. Reporting allows you to see various metrics around team performance, like first response time and the number of messages coming in and out of your shared inbox.
The List: The best shared inbox software
Here’s our breakdown of the best inbox software options. The first one from Google is free!
Google Collaborative Inbox
Google Collaborative Inbox could be a good option if you’re a small team looking for some free software. This option allows members of a Google Group to access, read and respond to email in a team email.
The advantage of Google Collaborative Inbox is you can invite multiple members of your team to collaborate on email without sharing your login details. You can also assign emails to different members of your team so you can keep track of who is working on what.
That’s where the the benefits of Google Collaborative Inbox end. It’s a limited piece of software and you get what you pay for. The layout is completely different from a traditional Gmail layout, and not nearly as user-friendly. You also can’t tell if someone has already responded to an email, running the risk that multiple members of your team will reply.
Google Collaborative Inbox is strictly only to be used by very small teams who do not require much functionality from their shared inbox. If you’re a growing team, you might want to consider one of the paid options on this list.
Kayako provides a shared team inbox for you to manage all your customer support conversations. You can control your inbox with custom views, which allow your team to keep all of your customer conversations organized and accessible. Use tags to categorize email conversations for quick handling, reference and analytics.
It’s easy to assign conversations and automatically route the email to the agent who is best equipped to handle the ticket. You can avoid duplicate replies by automatically seeing who is viewing or working on a conversation.
Aside from all the usual features, Kayako boasts an internal collaboration system where you can share notes with other agents and instantly engage with internal experts across your organization.
The SingleView dashboard provides a full visualization of the entire customer journey so you always have a 360 degree perspective of your customer. You can see purchase history, activities, and interactions with other agents so you never have to ask another repetitive question.
Kayako starts at $30 per agent per month.
Help Scout is a leading shared inbox software that’s used by more than 12,000 businesses. It’s good for businesses small to large, and is simple to set up. It comes with many features that help companies provide exceptional email support, and using Help Scout is completely invisible to your customers.
Help Scout looks like a traditional inbox, but is more powerful and you can have access to organization, automation and collaboration tools that make your work easier. You can make sure every email goes to the right place with easy assignments to both individuals and teams. You can send team members private notes so you can collaborate on a solution before responding to customers.
It’s simple to create a searchable library of frequently asked questions that you can insert into customer replies in two clicks. You can tag customer conversations to automate workflows, categorize types of requests and create detailed reports.
With Help Scout, you always know who your customers are. Everything you need to know about the person you’re replying to is in the sidebar, including contact information, previous conversations, and data from other apps.
Help Scout starts at $25 per user per month.
Freshdesk is a powerful shared inbox that offers many features, including the ability to manage all your incoming communications across platforms. You can use the power of collaborative ticketing and AI to deliver the best customer experience, and prioritize, categorize, and assign tickets to the right agents.
Customer issues from any channel can be converted into tickets in Freshdesk. None of your customer conversations slip through the cracks, and agents always stay on top of customer support.
Freshdesk’s team inbox is designed for team collaboration and productivity. You can achieve more with the software than simply sending replies to customers – you can prioritize every ticket based on keywords, and filter tickets based on specific properties so the most important tickets that agents should work on are at the front of your inbox.
Collision detection lets you know when other agents are working on the same tickets. Canned responses allow you to save replies to common questions and reuse them. Merge tickets about the same issues into one to keep your inbox tidy.
Freshdesk starts at $18 per agent per month.
Groove is a shared inbox for small businesses looking for an alternative to Gmail. You can organize all your support emails in one place, route emails to the right team member, and get more work done as a team. 10,000 small businesses already rely on Groove as their shared inbox software.
Groove is marketed as the shared inbox for teams who have outgrown email. Its Unique Selling Point is the simplicity of using the interface and it does away with a lot of the clutter that’s common to most shared inboxes.
You can bring all your conversations into one place from email, Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Instagram. Groove integrates with Shopify so you can keep track of the status of a customer’s order. Edit orders, subscriptions or refund payments, all within Groove.
You can assign conversations to specific team members, so it’s always clear who’s responsible for what. Add internal notes to your conversations to have private discussions with your team members. Easily see if someone is already replying to a conversation to avoid a double reply.
Groove starts at $50 a month.
HubSpot is a CRM that has a customer support module. You can keep track of customer requests in one unified help desk so that you never miss another email, your team can easily prioritize work, and they can find solutions for customers faster. You’ll be able to keep track of the status of a ticket, where it is in the queue, and how long it took to get resolved.
HubSpot lets you monitor key support metrics like agent response time, ticket volume, and more. You can more effectively manage customer demand and coach your support team to be the best they can be. HubSpot’s ticketing tools include routing and automation features so your team can spend less time on inbox management, and more on helping your customers succeed.
You can prioritize requests so the most important tickets can get resolved more quickly. Quickly assign owners and stages to individual tickets, and HubSpot will arrange them into a personalized pipeline of work for each team member. Tickets also include customer context like purchase history, product details, service issues and more so support reps always have the information they need to deliver personalized support.
HubSpot is $50 per agent per month.
ProProfs is a shared inbox for customer support teams. ProProfs makes it easy to collaborate on all customer-facing emails, you never miss a customer request and you always send timely responses. You can track who is working on what, and can resolve customer issues, requests and bugs easily.
You can assign tickets and prioritize them using labels and flag tickets that need immediate attention. A single ticket can be assigned to relevant teams so that agents can add internal comments and notes in order to resolve the ticket faster. Shared inbox allows you to track and measure ticket resolution time, so you can stay on top of your performance.
ProProfs integrates with a knowledge base so you can easily provide self-service customer support. You can also draft and save canned responses that you can send out to common customer queries and save time.
ProProfs starts at $10 per user per month.
HappyFox is a very simple shared inbox solution that enables your team to collaborate on customer tickets. It makes internal communication easy with private notes, an internal knowledge base, and agent collision alert to discuss important tickets and provide timely support. The clean interface simplifies ticket tracking, viewing and organization with queues and categories.
HappyFox supports 35 languages including Dutch, French, German and Spanish. You can provide a holistic support experience regardless of your customer and agent language preferences. You can automate repetitive tasks and actions using features like Smart Rules. It includes reporting and analytics that allow you to make data-backed decisions in relation to your shared inbox.
You can build a self-service knowledge base for your customers that answers common questions, and prevents customers from raising a ticket. HappyFox has a whole library of integrations that you can take advantage of, including Salesforce, Asana and Microsoft Teams.
HappyFox starts at $29 per agent per month.
Front is shared inbox software that you can use to keep your customer service team organized. It brings all your work together in a single view, from email, to Twitter, to team chat, to your favorite apps. All your messages are brought together in the same dashboard so you never lose track of anything ever again.
Send messages to the right place with workflow rules and assignments based on keywords, sender, time of day, and more. Front helps you understand trends across apps and messages so you can get holistic insights that will improve your workflow. You can chat with your team directly within your inbox so it’s easy to find conversations later.
Front starts at $24 per user per month.
No list of shared inbox software would be complete without our very own Keeping. Keeping is a simple option for Gmail which turns every customer email into an assignable help desk ticket that can be routed to other members of your team.
Keeping comes with all the power of customer support software while being simple enough to use inside your own Gmail inbox. The huge advantage of Keeping is you don’t need to learn any new software and you can get set up in just a few clicks.
The software comes with all the features you’d expect, including collision detection that tells you when someone else is already working on a ticket. Keeping offers advanced automations so you can take advantage of workflows and “if/then” logic to automate certain tasks, like task assignment and prioritization.
You can save canned response templates that your team can insert into common customer emails quickly and easily. Your team can share notes with one another to provide more context about a particular customer conversation.
Keeping starts at $10 per user per month.
If you want to take your customer service to the next level it’s crucial to consider shared inbox software. There are many solutions out there on the market and it’s up to you to choose the best one to suit your team’s needs.
You need to move beyond a traditional email inbox and take the leap into shared inbox software. Make the move today and you’ll be rewarded with happier, more satisfied customers, enhanced productivity and a host of other business benefits.